It’s Memorial Day weekend. My dear friend, Susan, traveled with some of her family today to a bridal shower in Maine, stopping along the way at several southern Maine cemeteries to visit family graves, places she hadn’t been to in a couple of years.
With them were another daughter and one of Susan’s granddaughters. The idea to visit came from Susan’s youngest daughter, which means she has passed that importance on to her children.
Although I have not been “home” in Kentucky for Memorial Day in years, I do still honor the family passed with a visitwhen I am in town. I travel to Battle Grove Cemetery, stop first at the parents’ site just past the mausoleum, who are buried alongside Daddy’s parents, and just downhill from three of his brother, Howard’s, wives. Uncle Howard outlived them all and was buried with his fourth wife elsewhere.
In the next family plot to the right are the Kings, cousins of my father’s, including the Methodist minister, Frank King, who performed my wedding ceremony.
Then, I drive up the hill to my mother’s family’s burial plot: my grandmother, my great-aunt, my Aunt Pat, my great-grandparents, a great-uncle I never knew, my grandmother’s sister who died in as an infant.
Next, I journey around to the backside, where my father’s brother, Bus and his wife Dal, and their eldest son, Lindsey, are buried. Lindsey, a lifetime ago one of my best friends, died days short of his 2oth birthday in an auto accident. His parents (and two younger brothers) survived him. His death left a hole in everyone’s heart.
Across the road from Lindsey and his parents are the Jennens, Bush and Sara Frances, parents of more dear friends. I walk over there because I can, because I know where their gravesites are.
Sometimes, I visit other graves: the Carrolls, Aunt Sara Newton, Richard Slade (a funny, handsome, loveable classmate who died in a tractor accident when we were in our 40s). He had just come to the class reunion that summer, as I recall. Then, just like that, he was gone.
It’s my personal observation of Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day. It was so named to honor Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the War Between the States. It ultimately became Memorial Day, not just in memory of all the soldiers and others who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. It now honors all of those who went before us, who helped show us the way, teach us to love and cherish, teach us patience and faith.
And because I find so much solace in music, I offer you this from John Lee Hooker on this Memorial Day weekend: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEGYYbRRB_8"